Greetings from freezing cold Columbus, where the San Jose Sharks are licking their most recent wounds, hearing the latest news about the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes, and preparing for the rest of a challenging road trip that will take them from Columbus (EST) to Dallas (CST) to Washington (EST) to Chicago (CST, back-to-back), and finally to Calgary (MST), where they’ll reacquaint themselves with Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau.
At this writing, we’re finally figuring out why the Predators scratched one of their former first round draft picks, Scottie Upshall, from the lineup. Word out of Philadelphia is that Upshall, along with Ryan Parent, a first-round pick and a second-round pick will all go to the Flyers in exchange for Peter Forsberg.
The Predators, who played one of their best games of the season in a 5-0 win over the Sharks on Wednesday, have apparently made a move for a playoff run that will be very expensive if Forsberg leaves as an unrestricted free agent in July, or expensive-but-worth-it if the Predators win the Stanley Cup.
I’m also reminded of another similar game that the Sharks played on December 5, 1995, when the Colorado Avalanche dressing room was absolutely buzzing about “something big” about to happen, just before the game. In inspired fashion, the Avs took a 12-1 lead over San Jose before Kevin Miller scored on a penalty shot with 10 seconds remaining in the game to make the final score 12-2, Colorado. After the game, we found out what the “something big” was. The Avalanche, in a blockbuster deal, had acquired Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens, and the Stanley Cup arrived in the Mile High City just a few short months later.
So, the Predators must have known that something was up, but give them credit. I talked to a Nashville executive today and he told me that the game was one of their best games of the season. It reminds me of another 5-0 defeat that the Sharks suffered in Anaheim, which was one of the Ducks’ best games of the season.
The Sharks are finding that they are a measuring stick for other teams. That’s a good thing, long term. What they need to focus on now is utilizing their strengths to best advantage, and improving their 5-on-5 play through the remainder of the season. That is a work in progress, and one which will be an important complement to the team’s talented power play.
Of the next five games, four are against teams currently out of the playoff race. It’s a definite opportunity to move forward.
For Seagate Technology’s “In the Crease,” I’m Dan Rusanowsky.